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2016 Hale ‘Aina Winners Announced

In an exclusive ceremony at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel Sunday night, HONOLULU Magazine revealed the winners of this year’s Hale ‘Aina Awards—more than 180 of the best restaurants in the state, in 38 categories ranging from gourmet comfort food to sushi to Italian.

The event marks the magazine’s  year of selecting Hawai‘i’s top restaurants, as voted on by HONOLULU readers, and we’re excited to celebrate all the places advancing dining excellence around the city. Among the evening’s top wins were the Best New Restaurant award, which went to Livestock Tavern, and the Restaurateur of the Year award, which went to Hide Sakurai, owner of Shokudo, Búho Cucina y Cantina and Bread and Butter.

Find the full list of award winners below. Congratulations to all those who won—we’ve certainly got our dining plans for the next few months set out now!

Click here to see the winners


About the event

In 1984, HONOLULU Magazine established its Hale ‘Aina Awards as the Islands’ first local restaurant awards. Before then, culinary awards in the Islands had been given by Mainland travel interests. The Hale ‘Aina Awards were the first to recognize local tastes. 

Over the past 30 years, the Hale ‘Aina Awards have been much imitated, but they still stand out, as the most prized dining awards in the Islands.

All HONOLULU readers are eligible to vote. Voting took place in June. A hard copy ballot also appears in the June issue each year. After the ballots are tallied, the magazine designates its readers’ favorite restaurants as Hale ‘Aina Award winners for that year.

Hale ‘Aina means “eating place.” It is the closest Hawaiian equivalent to the word restaurant. But Hale ‘Aina has come to mean the most prestigious dining awards in the Islands. They act as a guide to readers about where to eat, they bolster a restaurant’s reputation and they have been publicized all over the Mainland and Japan.

The Hale ‘Aina Awards also feature a fun and delicious signature event for HONOLULU Magazine. What had started as a potluck celebration in a conference room at the office has grown into a gala celebration. The awards are announced for the first time on Sunday, Sept. 27 at The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort.


The Hale ‘Aina Awards ballot nominations

In each Hale ‘Aina Award category, there are six available slots for nominations. Three are automatically filled with the gold-, silver- and bronze-award-winning restaurants from the previous Hale ‘Aina Awards, in recognition of their demonstrated high quality. Two restaurants were nominated by HONOLULU Magazine’s food and dining editor, Martha Cheng, based on her own research and impressions of Hawai‘i’s dining scene. And lastly, one nomination slot is reserved as a write-in, to allow readers to suggest their own favorite restaurant in each category, if it hasn’t already been nominated.


The Passion fruit creamsicle dessert from STAGE.


Past Hale ‘Aina Award Winners

2015 Hale ‘Aina Award Winners (Best Restaurants in Hawai‘i)

2014 Hale ‘Aina Award Winners (Best Restaurants in Hawai‘i)

2013 Hale ‘Aina Award Winners (Best Restaurants in Hawai‘i)